INDIANAPOLIS — It only took 90 seconds for Michigan State’s Eron Harris and Maryland’s Jake Layman to get into a shoving match. It took head coach Mark Turgeon a little over 16 minutes to get whistled for a technical foul.
In a rematch of last season’s Big Ten semifinal, there was no love lost between MSU and Maryland. They needed the full 40 minutes to decide a winner.
Terps star point guard Melo Trimble drove to the basket and, as he has done for his two seasons in College Park, went up for the finish to win the game but Maryland came up a little short.
Michigan State defeated Maryland 64-61 to advance to the Big Ten Championship Sunday against Purdue.
“In the end, the last three minutes, they were able to make one or two more plays than we were, than we could,” Turgeon said.
The two conference heavyweights traded blows in the opening minutes as Maryland matched every bucket from the favorite Spartans, who hadn’t lost in more than a month.
Maryland was within six points heading into the final 10 minutes of the first half before an inadvertent Denzel Valentine pass hit Melo Trimble in the nose, forcing him to go to the bench and stalling Maryland’s rhythm in the process.
MSU took a ten-point lead while Trimble was tended to on the bench.
After a brief absence, Trimble came back into the game and cut the lead to six points on a pair of free throws.
Valentine, a national player-of-the-year candidate, beat the buzzer with a fadeaway jumper to give MSU a 41-33 lead at halftime. Valentine finished the game with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Maryland and MSU continued the back-and-forth in the second half.
Trimble tied the game at 53, with 10 minutes remaining in the second half after nailing a three-pointer at the top of the arc off of a screen. The tie game would be short lived after Valentine answered with a three-pointer of his own.
The three-pointer would end up being one of only two field goals for Trimble on the afternoon. Trimble finished 2-of-15 from the field and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. He did make all of his free throws.
Maryland took its first lead since the opening minutes after Robert Carter made a pair of free throws with six minutes remaining.
Carter was UMD’s most consistent offensive threat, but it was the Terrapins defense that kept the game competitive going into the closing moments.
Maryland held Michigan State to 42 percent shooting from the field and forced 13 turnovers, hours after allowing Nebraska to score 86 points.
“We didn’t let the offensive side of the ball affect our defensive end,” Rasheed Sulaimon said. “We felt that if we defended and stayed within striking distance that we can have a big burst offensively at any given moment.”
UMD went to Diamond Stone with a chance to take the lead, but as his hook shot went in the air Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis swatted not only the ball but also Maryland’s chance at advancing to the championship.
Trimble’s last-second heave with 0.8 seconds left on the clock didn’t even make it past half court as Michigan State escaped Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a victory.
“We wanted momentum. We wanted to beat Michigan State. We couldn’t do it today,” Turgeon said.